Okay – many artificial Christmas trees are lovely, especially the more expensive ones. All are perfectly formed, never shed their ‘needles’, are scent-free, and most importantly, they last…and last…and last. There is warped thinking that artificial trees are a reduction in our ecological footprint, simply because they can be reused again and again. This is a myth. The majority of artificial trees consist of non-biodegradable, non-recyclable polyvinyl chloride – plastic. Our landfills are choked with this stuff, including tired old artificial Christmas trees that will take centuries to break down.
Real Christmas trees, on the other hand, are imperfect, a reflection of Mother Nature’s diversity. No two are exactly alike, even from the same species. They may have small gaps, more than one leader, a few dry needles – more if you don’t water carefully. And they smell! Yes, smell. Sharp, sweet, refreshing, scents often captured by winter candles. Japanese researchers have found that the chemical terpenes from all conifers or evergreens help purify the air and help the human immune system (google shinrin – yoku).
As they grow, real Christmas trees absorb CO2 and store carbon, and release oxygen into the atmosphere, and at the same time, provide valuable habitat for wildlife. And when the holidays are over, they return carbon and nutrients to the soil when they decompose or in the form of mulch. While most artificial trees are produced in China and shipped thousands of kilometres, real Christmas trees are locally grown and contribute to local economies. Last but not least, the process of choosing your own tree, whether pre-cut or cutting one down yourself, can be personally satisfying, or a valuable family, partnership or community experience. If you have the time and interest, and would like to be more environmentally positive, consider opting for a real, homegrown tree this Christmas. Maybe start a tradition. Have a Merry Christmas!
The MM Tree Committee